COVID-19 cases are still rampant throughout the United States. Just as communities and businesses throughout the country are getting used to a new normal, a new variant has emerged.
Although vaccines are becoming more and more accessible, it’s no surprise that many of us are left wondering how the new variants, such as Omicron, will affect our communities.
First detected in November 2021, Omicron is a heavily mutated variant of the COVID-19 virus. As of December 21, 2021, Houston, Texas, was the first city in the U.S. to have an Omicron patient die due to the variant.
So, what’s the deal with Omicron?
Although the CDC warned that Omicron may spread more easily than the Delta variant, the effects of the virus on the body may not be as severe. Dr. David Persee, the chief medical officer for Houston, also stated, “Omicron is cause for concern, but not panic.”
The good news for those in Houston?
Our friends, families, and co-workers are less likely to become seriously ill from Omicron.
The bad news?
Although Omicron seems to have milder symptoms and effects on those who catch it, Houston businesses still face staffing shortages.
In Harris County, Omicron has become the dominant strain circulating the area, displacing the delta variant — according to Dr. Wesley Long, Houston Methodist Hospital’s director of microbiology, reports that Omicron is accountable for 82 percent of symptomatic patients.
Although it’s the dominant strain, what’s the outlook once infected?
Unlike previous variants, like Delta, Omicron doesn’t appear to efficiently infect the lungs, meaning:
Adults with Omicron in the U.S. are less than half as likely to have to be hospitalized, visit the emergency room, or be put on a ventilator, according to research from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
According to a recent article in Fox Business news, it’s business as usual for most businesses in Houston.
But what’s the effect on the construction industry?
For construction businesses, be prepared to handle scheduling conflicts as contractors, suppliers, and clients have to postpone projects due to staffing and supply shortages and quarantine periods due to the high transmission rate of the Omicron variant.